It’s a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for All the Beautiful Liars by Sylvia Petter, published yesterday (16th March) by Lightning Books, available for kindle via Amazon in the UK (just 99p for a limited time) and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support.
My apologies that I just couldn’t fit in a review of this one, but I really did like the look of it… see what you think.
How true are the family histories that tell us who we are and where we come from? Who knows how much all the beautiful liars have embargoed or embellished the truth?
During a long flight from Europe to Sydney to bury her mother, Australian expat Katrina Klain reviews the fading narrative of her family and her long quest to understand her true origins. This has already taken her to Vienna, where she met her Uncle Harald who embezzled the Austrian government out of millions, as well as Carl Sokorny, the godson of one of Hitler’s most notorious generals, and then on to Geneva and Berlin. Not only were her family caught up with the Nazis, they also turn out to have been involved with the Stasi in post-war East Germany.
It’s a lot to come to terms with, but there are more revelations in store. After the funeral, she finds letters that reveal a dramatic twist which means her own identity must take a radical shift. Will these discoveries enable her to complete the puzzle of her family’s past?
Inspired by her own life story, Sylvia Petter’s enthralling fictional memoir set between the new world and the old is a powerful tale about making peace with the past and finding closure for the future.
I’m delighted to welcome the author to Being Anne to answer a few questions…
All the Beautiful Liars uses a number of locations – Vienna, Sydney, Geneva, Madrid… have you been to all those places or are details based on research?
I’ve lived in Sydney, Vienna and Geneva, almost in equal amounts of time now, and I’ve visited Madrid. But memories sometimes trick you, so I’ve gone back to the internet to look up some details.
Do you speak other languages, seeing you’ve lived in non-English speaking countries?
Yes, I’m fluent in German and French, and rusty in Spanish, but English is my mother tongue.
Do you read in other languages?
I like to read in the original language, but also like to read renderings in English, especially when it comes to newspapers and magazine articles. Here I’m not talking about translations, but a different way of seeing things.
What sort of books do you read?
I read all sorts of books depending on the subject matter that grabs my attention. For example, I´m working on some fiction for which I went back to Anna Funder’s non-fiction book, Stasiland. If a review catches my interest, I’ll try and get the book, but I’m wary of all the hype and usually wait until it has died down, unless I am really intrigued, as with a short-story collection I recently bought called Shirl by Wayne Mitchell, which was shortlisted for an Australian literary award for an unpublished manuscript. So, I like all sorts of book: short stories, flash fiction, poetry, novels, whatever catches my eye wherever, but I do prefer books I can hold in my hands, turn the pages.
What are the pros and cons of living in a country not of your mother tongue?
Let’s start with the cons. For a while, I felt awfully alone, but local expat writing groups helped, and on the internet in the pre-web days I did a lot of work in online fora. Trouble is, for a long time I didn’t recognize clichés as I wasn’t being exposed to English. But the pros for me is having a fresh view of things and relationships, not just people watching, but people listening, and discovering new and exciting images through the different languages one sees and hears. And there are conferences …
Conferences? Do you mean writing conferences in other cities?
Yes, I try to attend at least one writing conference a year just to get totally immersed in English and writing. For many years I attended the biennial Conference on the Short Story in English and met writers there from all over, some of whom have become friends. Then there’s the biennial Geneva Writers’ Conference I also attended for many years. This year, I’ll be attending the Geneva one, and the Stockholm Writers Festival as well as the Bath Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol. It’s a good way to catch up with old friends and get those writing muscles flexing in new ways.
I do hope your travel won’t be curtailed this year, Sylvia – and I wish you every success with the book.
About the author
Sylvia Petter was born in Vienna but grew up in Australia, which makes her Austr(al)ian.
She started writing fiction in 1993 and has published three story collections, The Past Present, Back Burning and Mercury Blobs. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales.
After living for 25 years in Switzerland, where she was a founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group, she now lives in Vienna once more.
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